It’s the start of the tourist season, Belfast is busier than ever and here at DC Tours we are girding up our loins, lacing up our walking shoes and preparing for another summer of fun and hard work. So what better time to get a new DC Tours mascot?

If you’ve followed us for a while, you’ll know that I am a sucker for a dog in need. Over the years I’ve rescued and fostered dogs from all over Ireland, as well as adopting a few from great animal welfare charities including Galway SPCA and Dog Angels Ireland. But when my elderly and much loved pound dog Cleo sadly died last November, it was only a matter of time before I started to check out the local rescues to see if there were any suitable dogs in need of rehoming.

Unfortunately there’s never any shortage – across the island of Ireland dog rescues are overwhelmed with discarded, unwanted and stray dogs. They all do an amazing job of rehoming as many as they can, but it’s just relentless at the moment, with lockdown puppies added to the mix as well. Dogs that cost thousands as puppies are now ending up in rescue because people have returned to work and don’t have time for them, or because their owners didn’t research their needs and find themselves with dogs that aren’t a good match for their lifestyles.

But the most consistently overlooked dog in rescue is the lurcher – this is not a breed of dog, but a type – basically a mix of sighthound breeds like greyhounds, whippets, deerhounds and salukis, with optional extras of terrier thrown in. They are used as hunting dogs in Ireland and frequently discarded as strays. It’s such a shame as they are gentle, affectionate, funny and love nothing more than a walk followed by a solid 18 hours of sleep, so in a lot of ways they are the perfect dog!

Suki doing what lurchers do best

Anyway, once I spotted Poppy on the Ballina Northwest SPCA Facebook page, I was smitten. Poppy had been living on the edge of a housing estate in Ballina for several months, with a small horse for company. All efforts to catch her had failed, and unfortunately she was eventually hit by a car. The rescue was able to catch her then and get her to a vet, where she was treated for a broken hip. She then went into kennels to recuperate for a few months until she was ready to go to a new home.

It’s a four hour drive each way from Belfast to Ballina, and as the town was getting ready for Joe Biden’s visit there was a fair bit of activity on the roads! By the time I got back to Belfast I had to get my other lurchers Django and Clanger introduced to their new friend (now called Suki) and then I had to persuade her that the house was safe – because of course she had never been indoors before. She wasn’t very sure at first:

Suki learning what it looks like indoors!

But after a bit of reassurance she came round and in no time she had discovered the joys of dog beds, sofas, squeaky toys and duvets:

Suki discovers soft furnishings

Suki has been in her new home for three weeks now and her personality is definitely starting to come out – no shoe is safe and she has taken a liking to sardine sandwiches for lunch. She is great friends with both Clanger and Django and has adapted to her new lifestyle really well.

Suki and Clanger

While you are unlikely to see Suki, Django or Clanger on our tours, you are more than welcome to bring your own dog along with you. And if you are looking for a dog to join your family, please consider a rescue dog, particularly a lurcher. They really do make the best pets and by adopting a dog from a rescue you are supporting them to help other dogs in need. If you don’t believe me, ask Suki!

Suki settled in